Category: Giro d’Italia

FloBikes to offer less-expensive broadcast of Giro, other events

FloBikes enters the market as a new, more affordable option for American viewers to stream the Giro d’Italia and Flanders classics.

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Aru returns to Tour of the Alps with eye on Giro pink

Fabio Aru returns to the Giro d’Italia this May a changed man. Now, he has experience, which he wants to use to win.

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VeloNews to publish official Giro d’Italia guide through 2019

BOULDER (VN)—VeloNews, the authoritative voice of cycling, will produce the Official Guide to the Giro d’Italia bicycle race through

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Giro d’Italia defies trend, keeps podium girls

Many races have ditched the tradition, but Giro race director Mauro Vegni said his event will maintain the practice.

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Israeli officials invite Pope Francis to Giro start

The Italian grand tour kicks off May 4 in Jerusalem, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Pope to attend.

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Woods braces for ‘extra weight’ of outright leadership at Giro

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — Canadian Michael Woods started his season in a low-key way at the Abu Dhabi Tour last week before the “extra weight” of being EF Education First-Drapac’s Giro d’Italia leader lands on his shoulders.

Woods will be the squad’s sole leader in the Italian grand tour starting May 4 in Jerusalem. After his 2017 Giro ride and seventh overall in the Vuelta a España, he proved his worth as a grand tour captain.

“I didn’t have the baggage of thinking about being a GC rider [in 2017], but I was able to run a good GC,” Woods told VeloNews in Abu Dhabi.

“Now it’s going to be a big test at the Giro, as I’m going to be coming into it with that baggage, with that weight, and it is an extra weight because you see guys crumble under it. It’ll be interesting to see how I handle that.”

Last year, Woods helped Pierre Rolland in the Giro and did not even consider the overall classification in the Vuelta until after stage 9. At that point, he began to battle with Chris Froome (Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) for the overall.

This winter, sport director Charly Wegelius and manager Jonathan Vaughters spoke with the 31-year-old and gave him the leadership role for the Giro.

“I’m honored and I have a lot of responsibility. There are so many tangibles in this sport and things can change in the meantime, but I do want to be the leader and I am excited to be in that position,” Woods said during an interview at Abu Dhabi last week. Among his competitors at the event were Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), whom he will face in the Giro.

Dumoulin won the Giro in 2017, becoming the first Dutchman to do so. Woods is not as well-known, but after last year, he is on everyone’s radar.

“I am still not a Fabio Aru, Valverde, a Tom Dumoulin, a guy everyone is looking to light the race up, but there is a greater level of respect that I am getting, a greater level of comfort that I feel in the peloton. It’s easier for me to hold the wheel,” Woods continued.

“I have a bit more experience and I understand a bit more. I haven’t figured bike racing out — I don’t think I ever will because you are constantly learning this sport, but I do feel a bit more confident when I’m racing.”

He tweaked his schedule slightly for 2018. Instead of beginning his season at Australia’s Santos Tour Down Under in January, he opted for a more relaxed start in the Middle East.

“I’m starting the season off in Abu Dhabi, the first time for me to be here,” Woods added. “The last two seasons, starting in the Tour Down Under, I came in really hot with the goal of the GC, where here there’s less pressure.”

The race included a time trial and ended with a summit finish on Sunday that suited Woods’ strengths. He finished 18th on the day and placed 19th overall.

Woods will continue his season with the Volta a Catalunya, País Vasco, and the Ardennes classics before the Giro d’Italia.

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Dumoulin takes a familiar, fruitful road to 2018 Giro

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — Tom Dumoulin knows the road to winning the Giro d’Italia. And Sunweb’s world champion will turn onto that same winding path this 2018 season as he tries to defend his Giro d’Italia title.

Dumoulin will begin his season Wednesday in the Abu Dhabi Tour. The Dutchman leads Team Sunweb, along with Wilco Kelderman, over the next five days. It will be his first step toward the Giro’s start in Jerusalem, May 4.

“Other than that I wear the TT world champion jersey, nothing is different from last year, just that everyone starts from zero again like me,” Dumoulin said.

“I just have to work hard again and hopefully get some good results again. I do the same race program again, exactly, also the altitude camps. But you can never replicate or duplicate a season, it’s not possible. We had some good experiences last year, so why change a lot?”

Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the Giro in its 100 years when he toppled Nairo Quintana (Movistar) last year in Milan. This year, he is going back to face a different route. The race will start in Israel with a 9.7km time trial and end with climbs such as the Monte Zoncolan. Plus, he’ll be up against different rivals, such as Italian Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) and four-time Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky).

Dumoulin’s race program looks similar to 2017. After Abu Dhabi, he will start Tirreno-Adriatico stage race mid-March. Froome is also slated for the seven-day event in Italy. Last year, Dumoulin was third overall in Abu Dhabi and sixth at Tirreno.

“It’d be a risk to compare too much to 2017,” continued Dumoulin. “I don’t want to compare training data with last year or something. That’s why I have to do this program, but not try to do everything the same, the same days training, and so on …”

He considered attempting the Giro and Tour de France double but decided to put his weight behind a second Giro title. He should race the Tour in July, but it is unclear if will ride for an overall result.

Many critics argue that he would be better-suited for the Tour’s route and would be wasting his time trying to win another Giro title when the Tour is more prestigious.

“Why? The main reason is that I think my chances of winning the Giro are higher than in the Tour, for the parcours and maybe also because of the competitors,” Dumoulin said.

“Also because I love Italy. I like the race better than the Tour just for the feelings. There is more passion in Italy for cycling, also I like the country for holidays. I like to be there, and if I like to be there, I race better.”

Dumoulin will try to win the Abu Dhabi Tour with his teammate Kelderman also a protected rider for Sunweb. The five-day race includes a stage 4 time trial, where he will debut his new world champion jersey he won last year, and a summit finish on the final day Sunday.

“I like to start the season late, it’s always a long season anyway, and I like to be good until the worlds TT or until after,” Dumoulin explained. “Also I like the heat and course, the TT and the uphill finish is good for me.”

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Israel Cycling Academy takes step toward Tour with Giro invite

The Giro d’Italia will take an historic step in May, venturing outside Europe for the first time to start in Jerusalem. And when the race arrives, Israel’s first pro cycling team will line up for its first grand tour — a major milestone team leaders hope will help them eventually reach the Tour de France.

“This is a big, big opportunity that we hope to leverage,” said Israel Cycling Academy (ICA) general manager Ran Margaliot of the move for both the team and the race.

The young team was building toward a Giro bid long before race organizers officially awarded a wild card slot. Margaliot sees it as a key step toward riding the Tour, which he said has been his “number-one goal” since the team’s founding.

“This is the only point where we’re actually going to be able to penetrate into the mindset, into the awareness of the general public” in Israel, he said.

Cycling is a popular hobby there, Margaliot explained, but when it comes to the professional sport, “The Tour de France is the only thing they knew.”

That’s why he’s determined to take Israeli riders on an Israeli team to the Tour. In the meantime, he hopes his countrymen will get behind a team that has a lot in common with Israel itself.

“The underdog story is written on our forehead,” he said. “As a team, as people, as a nation, this is what this country is all about.”

To get Israelis psyched about pro cycling, Margaliot believes, their hometown team can’t just participate in high-profile races. They have to ride well.

“We have to be reliable when we are there. We have to make sure we have [a] legit team, legit riders,” he said, so the team’s efforts aren’t just “a one-year PR campaign.”

The team has been working to build that legitimacy, and grow into an organization that can tackle a grand tour. They’ve expanded the roster and nearly doubled the staff since late 2016; ICA now comprises a 24-rider pro team and eight-rider development team, with 44 staffers.

The team’s backers have stepped up to support the expansion, according to team manager Kjell Carlström. It’s also meant team suppliers and partners have pitched in more. In recent months, ICA has announced new deals with Oakley, Garmin and a trio of Italian gear manufacturers.

With numbers to match the rosters of top-tier WorldTour teams, Carlström said, “we can have a perfect run-in to the Giro. We can have everybody racing so that they are fit and on a good level.”

That run-in includes a series of shorter stage races, like the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya, which Carlström said can help the riders and team organization alike prepare for the bigger challenge of the three-week Giro.

Carlström has done this before, as part of the team that took IAM Cycling to its first grand tours — though he noted that, unlike at ICS, “I wasn’t the most experienced guy there.”

He took a major lesson from that experience: “You cannot underestimate how difficult the first grand tour will be for a team,” he said. “You cannot take it lightly.”

No matter the race length, Carlström said, the team has protocols so everyone knows the job they need to do. But the Giro will take more planning.

“When you come to the second week and maybe to the third week, and you start getting a little bit tired from all the work day in and day out,” he said. “That’s where the extra staff and the extra equipment and logistics, vehicles, et cetera will help you out.”

The riders who’ve never raced a grand tour face a similar adjustment. For them, Carlström said, the experience of veterans like Ben Hermans and Ruben Plaza will be an important guide.

Rider Krists Neilands, who’s hoping to make ICA’s Giro squad, agreed.

In other races, “you can go all-in for every day because it’s just five days; you can survive,” he said. But if he makes the Giro, he’ll watch how more experienced riders approach three weeks of racing. “You can just listen and you can figure out what should be the best option for you,” Neilands said.

The Giro’s trip to Israel, and Israel Cycling Academy’s invitation to the race, comes as the country’s always-fraught politics again make headlines globally.

That’s already had an impact. Race organizers sparked a brief controversy in November when they mistakenly said “West Jerusalem” while announcing the race route, stepping into the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian dispute over control of the city. The following month, ICA released Turkish champion Ahmet Orken from his contract, a move he requested because of the heightened Middle East tensions.

Still, Margaliot said he hopes to keep the politics out of the Giro. “I’m not the ambassador of my country,” he said. “I’m the ambassador of our sport and of our team.”

Margaliot said the three Giro stages in Israel can show the world a different side of the country and help introduce its people to cycling.

“I am a big believer in the religion of cycling and its ability to improve society,” he said. “This sport has the power to inspire people, to bring them together.”

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Roche eyes Giro glory alongside BMC teammate Dennis

MUSCAT, Oman (VN) — Often a super-domestique in stage races, Nicolas Roche has the talent to hunt his own results when given opportunities. This season, he’ll have at least one shot at grand tour glory at the Giro d’Italia in May.

His BMC Racing squad should have plenty of firepower at the start in Jerusalem.

“It will by myself and Rohan Dennis,” Roche told VeloNews last week at the Dubai Tour, where he made his 2018 season debut. “I think starting off with a time trial, Rohan has a big chance of the pink jersey, and then he also wants to give it a go as a GC rider. I’ve always said in a grand tour that there’s no problem going with two or three protected riders.

“Especially with the way the races are done now where everyone rides together so you can actually share the load in the team, it’s perfectly fine to have a couple of GC riders. I think for our team it works out better.”

Roche may generate fewer headlines than teammates Richie Porte or Tejay van Garderen, but the Irishman counts more grand tour stage wins than either on his career palmares, thanks to a pair of stage victories at the Vuelta a España. Although he faded a bit after a strong start, Roche put in another solid ride in Spain last season. He closed out the year with a third overall at the Tour of Guangxi, the final event on the WorldTour calendar.

Now 33, he’s gone from up-and-comer with a rockstar pedigree to respected veteran. In the process, Roche has carved out a role among BMC’s long list of talents.

Roche is gradually building into form this year. With his 2017 campaign ending in late October in China, Roche began his winter break later than normal.

Also, his plan to race the Giro is a break from that norm. Generally, Roche has focused more on the Tour and the Vuelta in years past. He’s only started the Giro three times in his 14-year career.

He’s still fine-tuning things his racing form in preparation for the May 4 start, but at the very least, he’s well-rested. Roche did a bit of vacationing in both Italy and the United Arab Emirates this off-season before getting back to training.

“Finishing that late, I had an easy start. There’s no magic, you can’t go four days on a holiday and then jump on your bike and start doing full-on intervals,” he noted.

That said, Roche rode to a respectable 15th overall at the Dubai Tour. It shouldn’t be long before he’s battling for the bigger one-week prizes in the run-up to the Giro. He is racing the Tour of Oman, and then he’ll target Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco. BMC should have an especially strong squad in the latter, with Porte slated to ride.

As of yet, BMC Racing’s long-term status in limbo with no sponsor confirmed. Roche isn’t worried, nor is he approaching races differently at this point in his season.

“If it was after the Giro, I’d start maybe thinking about it or having more interest, but at the moment, it looks like the team is actively looking for sponsors with the will to continue,” he said. “In every case, it’s important for me to get results, so I just focus on that.”

Roche is focused on results but not to the point of fretting over rivals at the Italian grand tour.

“It looks like every grand tour, there’s always the top riders. That’s why they’re the grand tours. That’s why they’re so special. That’s why it’s so hard to get results and be up there,” Roche said.

Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin will attempt to defend his title, and Sky’s Chris Froome plans to start, pending resolution of his Salbutamol case. Roche, however, does not see the Giro field as any more or less dangerous than usual.

“This year is no different than any other year. If not Dumoulin, it’s Quintana. If not Quintana, it’s Valverde. If it’s not Valverde, it’s Contador. If it’s not Contador, it’s Froome,” he added. “It’s always the same guys. Most of them do two. If you don’t get them in the Giro, you get the other third in the Vuelta. It’s exactly the same every year.”

As he made clear in Dubai, Roche has plenty of work to do on his road to Giro fitness. With that in mind, he may reach Israel flying even lower under the radar than usual. Don’t be surprised, however, if a Roche-Dennis pairing lands at least one BMC rider into the GC battle in the first grand tour of 2018.

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Giro director leans on UCI for guidance in Froome case

Giro d’Italia director Mauro Vegni can’t afford to have a repeat of 2011.

Seven seasons ago, Alberto Contador raced the Giro and won by more than six minutes. The trouble was, the UCI was in the process of investigating him for an anti-doping violation stemming from the 2010 Tour de France. After the fact, he was banned from racing and his results were stripped, including that pink jersey.

Now, Vegni is concerned that Chris Froome’s Salbutamol scandal will lead to another crisis for the Italian tour.

Froome had been welcomed to start the 2018 Giro with fanfare in November 2017, but that news quickly soured when his adverse analytical finding was leaked to the press.

On Thursday, Italian website ANSA reported that Vegni had called on the UCI for guidance in the matter.

When his race begins May 4 in Israel, he wants to be confident that the riders who start — namely Froome — won’t be suspended and have their results stripped after the fact. He even went so far as to ask for a “certificate” to guarantee bona fide results.

“We certainly can’t accept a repeat of the Contador case or a trial after the fact,” Vegni said.

He isn’t the only top cycling official sounding off on the Froome fiasco. UCI president David Lappartient has said that he feels Team Sky should voluntarily suspend the four-time Tour champion until the case is resolved.

“Sky should suspend Froome,” Lappartient told French regional newspaper Le Telegramme. “Now, it’s not up to me to interfere. Without wishing to comment on the rider’s guilt, it would be easier for everyone [were Sky to suspend him].”

The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has voiced similar concerns, although Sky is not part of that voluntary teams organization.

At this point, Froome’s path to resolving the case is unclear.

Initially, experts expected him to undertake a pharmacokinetic study to reproduce the elevated levels of Salbutamol found in the anti-doping sample taken at stage 19 of the Vuelta a España. Then, there were rumors that Froome would cite kidney malfunction as the cause of the adverse analytical finding. Most recently, news outlets reported that he would consider taking a plea bargain, although Froome flatly denied it.

Regardless, the next three months until the start of the Giro will surely be nerve-wracking for Vegni and his race, that is unless the UCI comes to a decision on the matter.

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